Kevin Norton likes to write long, segmented compositions. In Context/Out of Context picks up where For Guy Debord, his previous album on his label Barking Hoop, left off. Keeping the instrumentation to a trio of saxophones/flutes (David Bindman and Bob DeBellis) and drums/vibraphone, the piece (once again in nine parts) moves away from Anthony Braxton's vocabulary and closer to fire music. The leader points the finger at Cecil Taylor and Charlie Parker for influences in this particular piece, but one also finds a taste of Charles Gayle, David S. Ware, and even late Coltrane. Norton's strength as a composer is his balance of intellectual cleverness and emotional excitement. The album opens on a drum solo, followed by "Where?," a rather typical free jazz tune (powerful heads and well-organized free improvisations). A set of variations and a second written trio section ("Invision, Facing Up") leads to a lengthy vibraphone solo at the midpoint ("Tinkle Sport"). By then, the piece's momentum has been inverted, things actually coming to a halt for two seconds before the flutes and vibes trio "Meditations in Fall" begins. A reverse escalation takes listeners back through the variations and a final recapitulation of "Where?" Not the most original form, but the composition works well nonetheless. In Context/Out of Context was recorded live in October 1999 at a performance space called Context. It sounds like an ambient, single-microphone recording. The music comes from afar and has been mastered quite low. These shortcomings are compensated in part by the quality of the piece, but newcomers should start with Norton's better-sounding albums on Music & Arts and CIMP.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture